ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization Suggestions

In a stack of papers called Legislation.

  • Feb
  • 15
  • 2007

I received email from NEA, the head of the local union, and the union vice president, all decrying the latest suggested changes to ESEA (NCLB). Even though many ideas expressed in the Aspen Institute report would go a long way to move teaching toward an actual “profession,” one requirement lead my union to speak a resounding “NO!” to this.

Does This Frighten You?

Under HQET [Highly Qualified Effective Teacher], states would be required to put in place systems for measuring the learning gains of a teacher’s students through a “value-added” methodology, using three years of student achievement data, as well as principal evaluations or teacher peer reviews. (source)

To be evaluated based on the performance of students is a long time coming. I’d love to have an indication that I am or am not doing my job. Even more, I’d like to be shown the door if I’m not doing a good enough job. This sounds like a way to get bad teachers out of the classroom and students free of the tyranny of tenure jockeys.


There are problems here. The term “‘value-added’ methodology” is vague. I want something clear if we’re talking about an evaluation of my job performance.

A teacher with a full load of AP students doesn’t have to worry anywhere near as much as a teacher with a full load of repeating students. It’s pretty hard to bet your job on the performance of at-risk students who have poor academic histories.

Depending on how Far Below Basic a student is, even a huge jump in skill might not knock them out of the FBB ranking. The current teacher is then blamed for this, even though the student’s inability may be due to several years of poor teaching and/or poor diligence.

Teachers who fall in the top 75 percent of producing learning gains in the state and receive positive evaluations would achieve HQET status. (source)

So what is this, first come, first served? I don’t like a system that necessarily creates a failing class of 25%.

This ranking only impacts English, math, and science teachers. I’d prefer a holistic approach to improving teaching.

Perhaps A Better Way

There are lots of reasons for poor performance on tests like STAR, not the least of which is student laziness. However, also to be considered is poor teaching and that’s what we can do something about. It’s no surprise that the latest suggestions for ESEA (NCLB) include a proposal to tie teacher evaluations into student performance on tests. I can see this leading to teachers caring more about these tests (which means that students will care more about the tests by virtue).

NEA has some suggestions about how to improve ESEA, but none of them seem specific enough to enact. They are good talking points, though, and should be the basis of reinvention of this legislation.

I don’t like my evaluation tied into how well or poorly students perform on a single assessment It’s important to evaluate students (and teachers) based on multiple assessments.

There are all kinds of reasons for me to not like this idea. But you know what? I actually do like the sounds of where ESEA (NCLB) is going. I just hope this isn’t the final word.


1. Elona says:

[2/16/2007 - 5:13 am]

I read your post with interest. Most of my teaching load is with at risk kids. The kids are at risk for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with me. You should hear some of their stories. Some of the adults in their lives need to get their act together so they can be there for the kids. These kids are 14 years and older. I’m supposed to “fix” them in five months. I know I make a difference to most of them because they tell me that I am a good teacher and that I care about them. That seems to be a big thing, the caring thing. They don’t get much of that in their lives it seems. Many people have given up on them. We have long discussions in class about how these kids can help themselves when the adults in their lives cannot. Some of these at risk kids even have to give support to the dysfunctional adults in their lives. I talk about making better choices for better consequences. Kids ask for help making better choices. Parents ask for help managing their kids. I spend much of my day teaching things that will never appear on a test.

I think that some people need help with parenting skills. Some people are completely lost. Look at all the training teachers have to get before we can teach a kid for 75 minutes a day. Parents are teachers too, yet they are expected just to know what to do and unfortunately that is not the case. Parenting is a much tougher job than teaching.

2. Ruth says:

[10/21/2008 - 6:43 am]

We all know that bad teachers exist, but when they exist in the earlier years of a child’s life, it can be a make or break situation for that particular child.

Teachers need to be regulated, just like any other worker.

Their should be rules\policies in place, such as, 7,8,9 strikes your out!!

perhaps if a techer fears loseing her job, she will teach better, be better, treat children better.

The start of a child’s education is as important or maybe more important than HS or college.

It paves the path to what type of student is being created.

If you have a teacher who simply judges, this is a bad student, this is a good student, therefore, i will work more with the good student, is just as determental to that so called bad student than anything else.

We need to get rid of those bad teachers before the USA can improve any education system. No system can work unless we ahve good to great teachers behind anyone theory.

3. Oloidi Festus says:

[5/4/2009 - 1:44 am]

The only way to improve education is to flush out all those that are teaching without teaching qualifications